Margaret Ellibee: Takes on Big Job

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Margaret Ellibee (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

“As a technical college, we have a dual role,” she said. “We’re here to provide a quality, rigorous educational experience for students who wish to go on to a four-year institution, and provide a quality, rigorous educational service for people wanting to go directly into the world of business, the world of work. We have a great balance of that here.”

Ellibee said she’s proud of the college’s employees and its students, the latter of which she said come from all walks of life.

One of Ellibee’s challenges will be working out the increasingly important role of online courses at the college level. Pulaski Tech has both solely-online classes and classes that blend on-campus and online elements, which Ellibee counts as strengths.

“I think there’s a role for both of these in the future,” she said. “I think it’s to the college’s advantage offering either-or, or variations of that, in the future. Really, it’s giving that option to the student in the way the student’s going to learn best. Not every student learns the best online.”

Ellibee said she is working with Pulaski Tech to help students understand both how financial aid works and how they might stay out of debt due to loans.

“Since we have open admittance, students might come in and start taking classes, then don’t succeed, then they have a student loan, and have debt and no degree,” she said. “What we want to do is flip that and give them the tools and expectations and say, ‘All right, you have a student loan. This is what you have to do to succeed here at Pulaski Tech, and in doing so, we’re going to work with you and provide support services to get you through successfully.’”

The challenge of financial aid is exacerbated by the state of the college’s financials; by Ellibee’s calculations, Pulaski Tech is dramatically underfunded by the state.

“That’s a challenge,” she said. “We’ve got so many students who have a tremendous amount of need, and we’ve got to be able to meet those needs with the quality that they expect, and the quality that our businesses and industries expect of us and what our communities expect of us.”

Credits Mentors

Ellibee said her career path wouldn’t have been possible without the mentors, both male and female, that populated her life.

“I think, being a leader, a woman leader, that I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it hadn’t been for those mentors, if it hadn’t been for those experiences that started in Stuttgart, Arkansas,” she said. “I think it’s incumbent upon us, as leaders, that we carry on the tradition of excellence that our mentors gave to us, that we give back and we do what our mentors gave to us. They gave us gifts that are just invaluable. That’s what I have to do, and what I want to do. I don’t even give it a thought. It’s just what we do.”

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